Morbus Chron // Sleepers in the Rift
Rating: 4.0/5.0 —Are you Morbus?
Label: Pulverised Records
Release Dates:  EU: Out now! |  US: 09.27.2011

As I listen to this unheralded piece of nasty, morbid, old school death, one word comes to mind: Spewage. That’s the best way to describe what you’ll be getting here. Morbus Chron is a Swedish band playing filthy death metal like AutopsyDeath and Massacre. This breaks the current trend of following in the footsteps of legendary countrymen Entombed, Dismember. It’s still plenty retro but not the typical Swedish retro. Basically, their raucous debut Sleepers in the Rift sounds like something spewing from the underground in the late 80’s and it’s wonderfully repellant, low-fi, non-techy and makes you feel like you need to be disinfected and vaccinated. It’s underproduced, muddy, discordant and vile all the way but somehow manages to be catchy. What more could one ask for? Nothing!

After a creepy lead in, things get crusty immediately with “Coughing in the Coffin.” This had me smiling right away with its shaky, raw guitar tone and the insane, raspy vocals. After a quick start it devolves into a great, ominous doom riff at 1:50 and plods along like that for just the right amount of time before kicking back into sloppy, frenetic thrash speeds again. It’s an instantly likeable old school death gem that will jangle and discombobulate the senses. Followup “Creepy, Creep, Creeping” is more of the same with big thundering drums and its a thing of old-time beauty when vocalist Robba shows his Tom G. Warrior appreciation by adding a heartfelt “Ew!” “Bleh!” “Blarg!” after every lead break. His vocals sound quite rabid, and you can almost see the foam flying as he screams (especially from 3:15 onward). All the songs have an endearing old school approach and a few really end up being mini-classsics like “Red Hook Horror” (relentlessly hammering, discordant death attack), “The Hallucinating Dead” (outstanding riff patterns that swarm and menace) and “Ways of Torture” (great homage to the first Death album).

The riffing by Edde and Robba is crude and unrefined but catchy and engagingly chaotic. This isn’t the technical fret-fest that can heard on many modern death metal albums but the sloppy, going-off-the-rails quality of much of it  makes it tons of fun. Robba’s vocals are more in line with those of Evil Chuck (Death) than the l0w-register grunters that are so common these days. He screams, wails and wretches but rarely opts for the full on Cookie Monster schtick.

The production might have cost as much as a few cases of cheap beer and an old Slayer CD. It sounds like a rusty garbage can with a demon inside, being thrown down a long steel staircase. It’s a festering death metal soup with the vocals way out in front and drums that sound like they were recorded in a hallway. Echo city baby! I guess that’s the DIY way of approximating the sound of the titular rift. As rough and unpolished as the mix is, I honestly can’t imagine this material being presented any other way. Its soupy death and deserves a soupy mix.

A very pleasant and ferocious blast from the past, Morbus Chron is onto something here. If you love the insanity of Autopsy, this is a going to bring a deranged smile to your mug. Strange how a retro death album can be such a refreshing change from the other retro death albums. AMG would view that as a scorching indictment of the metal scene and the paucity of original ideas. As I’m not in the mood to be cynical or throw down a tirade today (although it’s mostly true), I’ll just suggest you check this out, original or not. Bad ass cover too!

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  • Al Tatts

    Sounds bleedingly fantastic. If there were a few US death metal bands I liked it would be (early) Death, Autopsy and Massacre.
    I find the overly technical, 10,000 riffs jazz deathmetal ala Atheist and their ilk just plain boring and more than a tad pretentious. You can’t beat rough as guts, demon in a rusty rubbish tin (excellent) death. Unless it’s super-heavy, Grave style, demon in a rusty rubbish tin death (New Entrails album – I’m talking to you).

    Searching now.

    • Then you should love this. Its not technical, just deathy in that good old way.

      • Al Tatts

        That new Entrails album arrived in my inbox Friday night. Missed the whole opening ceremony for Rugby World Cup listening to it.

        Already a contender for my album of the year. More early Grave than Entombed sounding to my ears. Killer drums and bass.

        You’ll be reviewing this at some point won’t you?

        • I believe a review will appear by mid-week. I’m a little unhappy with the new album. I think its a big step back from the debut. Still, it has some good stuff on it.

  • Al Tatts

    Holy fuck, it’s on iTunes New Zealand and only $15 bucks. It’s mine after work. More death.

    Did you watch your US rugby team smash into Ireland last night at the Rugby World Cup here in little old NZ?

    No pads, no helmets, just contact, plenty of contact. For shame American Football fans! For shame.

    • I did indeed watch it and was proud of the defense we played even though we lost.

      • Al Tatts

        Good man.

        The Eagles have improved heaps over the past couple of years. I put it down the Sevens team and Todd Clever playing Super Rugby in South Africa. Got some fast outside backs there.

        They’re based and played in my hometown, New Plymouth, and yes, it’s pissing down and freezing again.

        USA plays Russia here on Friday night. Got tickets for that.

        It’s gonna be a Cold War throwdown. Cue Rocky music.

        • I hope the game is great for you! I would love to be going myself but will be happy if its even on TV here lol.

          • Al Tatts

            Shit. We’ve got all 48 games live in HD. My sofa is gonna have a serious groove in it by the end of the tournament!

            Friday night will be huge.

          • Yeah that rocks! Sadly, rugby isn’t really well known here in the US.  This is the first time I think they even showed the US squad play in a World Cup on a major network. Here its American football all day/all night. Fortunately I love football too.

    • I did indeed watch it and was proud of the defense we played even though we lost.